Excerpt: 'Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and the Battle to Save Baseball'

The following excerpt of Jose Canseco's new book was provided to ABC News by the publisher, Simon Spotlight (a division of Simon and Schuster). The book will be published on April 1.

Chapter Two: The Entertainers

When someone gets around to writing the real history of baseball, I'm going to be remembered as the guy who did more to change the game than any other player. And I did it twice. I fundamentally changed the way the sport is played. The first time was when I introduced my fellow players to steroids, launching the Steroid Era, a decade that saw superhuman athletes breaking all of baseball's storied records. And the second time was when I saw that things were getting out of control, and that I had to tell the truth about what was going on.

Unfortunately, nobody wanted to hear the truth. I was excoriated by the press, booed by fans, and called a liar and a snitch by people who professed to care about the game. But here's the irony: nobody cared about the game as much as I did. And I have cared about it my whole life.

I was born in Cuba, and my parents moved to Florida when me and my twin brother, Ozzie, were just kids. I liked baseball from very early on, thanks to my father, who would take us out on weekend to teach us how to play. Or try, anyway. He seemed to enjoy telling us how terrible we were. But despite the insults, I refused to give up — maybe because I didn't want to be terrible, which I guess was his whole point.

We didn't have much money, but we did okay. And maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. As Joe DiMaggio once said, "A ball player's got to be kept hungry to become a big-leaguer. That's why no boy from a rich family ever made the big leagues."

When I was about eleven or twelve, I joined a local Little League, and my very first team was the Cincinnati Reds. I loved the uniform so much that I used to wear it to school under my regular clothes. The other kids made fun of me, but I didn't care. Baseball was already in my heart, my main interest in life.

In high school, I was kind of a runt — five eleven, 165 pounds — but I was already seriously into baseball, and everything I did, every minute of every day, was designed to make me a better player. It was a struggle. I had pretty good hand-eye coordination, and I had a good swing, but things didn't quite click, and I didn't make the varsity team until senior year.

On Saturdays, I'd always watch This Week in Baseball, a television show. My favorite player was Reggie Jackson, but not because I aspired to be like him. He was such a god that to even fantasize about hitting like that seemed almost sinful. It was enough to just sit quietly, in awe, and watch.

In 1982, I was drafted by the Oakland Athletics, and I got off to a slow but steady start. Before long, however, I had really improved my swing, and on good days I was knocking 400-foot homers out of the park. The fans loved it. I noticed early on that fans reacted more to home runs than to anything else that happened on the field. As I began to hit more and more home runs, I became more of a crowd favorite. Every time I was up at bat, they'd cheer like crazy. They were looking to be entertained, and I was looking to be entertaining.

Page
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...